CHICAGO — You may be used to looking up from the pump to see a Subway or Dunkin Donuts, but one man worked to make sure a Chicago staple moved in next to his family’s gas station.
The newest Pizzeria Uno location might not be traditional, but is nestled directly next to the Mobil station at the intersection of Diversey, Damen and Clybourn.
It’s been in the works since 2021 when the previous business, a cabinet shop, let Sunny Gakhal and his family, who has owned the station and accompanying building for 30 years, know they were not going to renew the lease.
“I always felt that pizza was the one thing missing from the neighborhood,” Gakhal said. “I wanted to bring something that was going to lift up the neighborhood, so I waited it out.”
In Sept. of 2021, Gakhal said he connected with Uno and that the company open to the idea of smaller locations.
Since they opened on Jan. 5, Gakhal said patrons were repeatedly asking for one thing.
“They’re pumping gas,” he said. “They walk in and they say, ‘Do you have slices?'”
As a result of the requests, Gakhal reached out to corporate and conversations were held to begin Uno’s first-ever slice program.
CEO Erik Frederick, originally from Crete, liked the idea of putting an Uno is such a busy intersection.
“The idea is ‘let’s try to grow in a non-traditional, big box casual environment,” Frederick said.
While he said the location is nice, what really sold him was the passion that Gakhal brings.
“With Sunny, we fell in love with him,” Frederick said. “We knew that he would turn out a good product for us.”
Franchester Williams, who lives two block away, came in after she received a notification from Uno’s app for a free pizza. She told WGN News she wasn’t surprised to find an Uno next to a gas station.
“I’m like ‘Okay,'” Williams said. “It’s not that unusual because they have Burger King and McDonald’s — but it’s cool it’s Chicago food.”
The Lakeview Uno location is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. everyday.